New Framework Provides Insight Into Closing The Park Equity Gap Through Policy Change
New York, NY – Parks and greenspaces help confront some of today’s most pressing societal challenges, such as mental and physical health, climate change, and economic growth and development. However, with 1 in 3 US residents – 100 million people – lacking access to a park within a 10-minute walk of home, city leaders are looking for effective ways to expand access to parks and greenspaces. And, low income neighborhoods and systemically under-resourced racial and ethnic minority populations have access to significantly less park space than residents of high-wealth and majority white neighborhoods.
There is a need for new tools and strategies to meet the scale and urgency of this nation’s park equity divide. Local policy is one focus of Trust for Public Land’s 10-Minute Walk Program in working with cities and communities to create sustainable change and address this divide. Currently, there is limited information about what policies and mechanisms contribute to equitable access to parks and greenspaces.
Trust for Public Land and College of Charleston today released a report “Key Park Equity Policies: Toward a 10-Minute Walk® Park Equity Policy Framework” that begins to fill this information gap. The report is an initial, foundational step towards supporting city leaders and closing the park equity gap through policy change.
“These inequities in park and greenspace access are in part the result of a long history of inequitable policy decisions that supported disinvestment of neighborhoods based largely on the racial makeup of residents.,” said Bianca Shulaker, Parks Initiative Lead and 10-Minute Walk Program Senior Director at Trust for Public Land. “Policy change, and centering community in this work, is an important step in reversing historical trends. This report, and our wider policy work, aim to help city leaders prioritize and invest in parks in ways that will close the park equity divide.”
“We’re partnering to provide the field with a more comprehensive view of common trends, innovative practices, and where deepened investment in local policy change is needed to close park equity gaps,” said project partner Dr. Morgan Hughey, Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance; Faculty Fellow, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities. “This initial report will serve as our framework to track the state of the field, as a resource about policies aimed at increasing park access, and to inspire and support local advocacy efforts.”
Currently, the research team is applying the framework to a diverse sample of 25 cities across the U.S. Through interviews with local government leaders and administrators in those cities, the research team is gaining context, insight, and expertise on the formulation, adoption, and execution of park policies. Findings from this research will be used to inform a “state of the field” of park equity policy report, which will document the current extent to which cities are utilizing policy to improve park access, and will identify ways the field can better leverage the full range of policy approaches that can meaningfully advance park access in local communities. The research team will share findings in fall 2024, with an aim to encourage and facilitate strategic and widespread adoption of policies to improve equitable park access by local leaders.
To learn more, read the report here.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.
About TPL’s 10-Minute Walk Program
The 10-Minute Walk program, a Trust for Public Land award-winning national program, is engaging city leaders to close the park equity divide so that every resident has access to a quality park or green space within a 10-minute walk of home. The 10-Minute Walk program calls on U.S. mayors to address cities’ most pressing needs around health, resilience, environmental protection, economic development, and community building through parks, and provides the resources needed to create and support parks that drive equitable, healthy, thriving communities. Through investigating and implementing high-impact policies and best practices for accelerating parks development, we aim to serve as the go-to group for closing the park equity divide. Read more at 10minutewalk.org.
About The Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston
The Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Livable Communities is a strategic initiative of the College of Charleston whose mission is to leverage the intellectual resources of the College to support the economic and cultural vibrancy of the City of Charleston and other communities throughout South Carolina and the United States. The Riley Center has been successful at providing a vast array of support for research, strategic planning, and leadership development to government and nonprofit organizations. Learn more at: riley.cofc.edu.